After four days of deliberations, a judge has allowed Galleria-area strip club Treasures to remain open while lawyers from Harris County and the City of Houston move forward with a lawsuit claiming that the gentleman's club operates as a den of drugs, prostitution and human trafficking.
The question at hand this week centered on whether Treasures could be considered a "public nuisance," a designation that would shutter the club for a year.
On Monday, Judge Alexandra Smoots-Hogan decided to give the club until Dec. 10 to clean up its act by complying with the following provisions.
- Mandatory sign-in, videotaped bag checks and twice-monthly drug tests for all employees
- Employees must cover their, um, backsides; patrons must tuck in shirts
- New employee background checks; fire those with felonies
- Security officers on all levels of the club; sex acts and drug activity must be reported to HPD
- Install 14 video cameras in addition to the 12 already in operation; tapes sent weekly to city and county attorneys
The conditions are based on evidence that attempted to show that Treasures management continually turned a blind eye to illicit activity, with more than 40 drug and prostitution arrests made at the club since 2008.
Defense lawyers feel that the evidence presented is insufficient, particularly when it comes to the list of arrests. In the words of Al van Huff, a Treasures lawyer who spoke with CultureMap in May, "Let's just say that 40 alleged violations in four years — that's 10 annually or less than one a month — does not a nuisance make.”
Judge Alexandra Smoots-Hogan said she saw "too much tookus" for her liking and made sure to get the "full coverage" clause in the compliance list.
City and county attorneys showed surveillance videos of patrons and workers at the front entrance to the club, according to KTRK Ch. 2. One dancer on view was partially exposed, a violation of the club's own employee policy.
The judge said she saw "too much tookus" for her liking, in a KHOU report, and made sure to get the "full coverage" clause in the compliance list.
With regard to the charges of drug and sex activity, the defense provided a witness who claimed that strict dancer anti-prostitution rules at the club could terminate dancers if they got “too close to a customer and started rubbing inappropriately.”
Based on her experience performing at the club, Houston journalist and exotic dancer Sarah Tressler put in her two cents Tuesday morning. "Treasures! Just shut it down already," she tweeted. "This place is a whore house. Houston isn't Las Vegas."